Ambassador Hassan Jika Ardo, needs no introduction in Nigerian politics; he was former Chairman of CPC and pioneer Chairman of APC in Taraba state before he was appointed as Nigerian Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago with concurrent accreditation to Guyana, Commonwealth of Dominica, Suriname, Barbados, and Grenada all in the Caribbean -southern America. In this exclusive interview with The West African Pilot News’s regional correspondent Ibrahim Abdul’Aziz, the fiery politician Ambassador Ardo bares his mind on sundry issues that affect Nigeria and his home state Taraba, happy reading:
WAP: Sir, the name Ambassador Hassan Jika Ardo is a household name in Taraba politics please can we have a brief about Hassan Jika Ardo?
HON. ARDO: My name as you rightly stated is Ambassador Hassan Jika Ardo. I am 57yrs old Muslim and Fulani man from Sardauna LG known as Mambilla plateau northern Nigeria born in the defunct northern region, later Northeast, Gongola State, now Taraba state.
I came from a village called Hainare, and we share a boundary with the Republic of Cameroon. My father Alh. Ardo Hassan late was turbaned Ardo in the late 1930s. He died in 2014 at the age of 102 while his twin brother Alhaji Ardo Seini died at the age of 101 in 2013 may their soul rest in peace amen.
I started my primary education at Hainare in the early ’70s as an adult and proceeded to Vocational Training Centre Gembu in 1979 before the election of President Shehu Shagari. After the election, I left Nigeria to the Republic of Cameroon where I spend some time.
Thereafter, I return to participate in the 1983 election. Immediately after the election, I got admission to Govt. Teachers Collage Gembu. After my Grade ll, I was employed as a teacher and resigned to further my study where I proceeded to Fed. Poly Mubi and got my national Diploma in accountancy.
I also obtained a Higher National Diploma in Accounting and Finance from Kaduna Polytechnic. I am a certified public accountant in Nigeria. Member Institute of chartered managers of Nigeria, Institute of strategic African Managers, etc.
After the creation of Taraba state, I work with the ministry of information youth sport and culture, the office of the accountant general, SSG’s office, the office of the Head of civil service and back to accountant General.
I voluntarily retired from service in 2013 and went back to active politics. I have been nominated member CPC renewal Committee, later appointed acting Chairman CPC Taraba State. I was elected interim chairman under legacy parties. In May 2014, I was elected state chairman APC Taraba state, the position I held until June 2017 when Mr. President graciously appointed me as Nigerian Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago with concurrent accreditation to Guyana, Commonwealth of Dominica, Suriname, Barbados, and Grenada all in Caribbean southern America.
WAP: As Nigerian Ambassador there, how life has been there most especially in this critical period of deadly Coronavirus?
HON. ARDO: Yes presently, I am the Nigerian High Commissioner. Note that Nigeria opens its embassy far back in 1973, and we have long-standing bilateral relations with most of the Caribbean Countries. Having a large population of people of Africa descend we have so many things in common. We have Nigeria Trinidad and Tobago join the commission, Bilateral Air Service Agreement.
Most of the Islands support Nigeria in elections. Military, Technical Aids and Cultural exchange. Trinidad and Tobago, unlike Nigeria, are really facing challenges on the pandemic coronavirus. It’s a small country compared to Nigeria with more number of infected people. It had closed all its borders and some people have started complaining of shortages of food, mask, and other sanitary items. However, the small Island is well-developed with about 4000 Nigerians many working as Professors, Doctors Engineers, and Nurses in both government and private organizations. The country has organized safety measures to mitigate the impact of lockdown on its citizens.
Many see Trinidad and Tobago as a bird of the same feather with Nigeria, is there any difference?
Bird of the same feathers in terms of what? They are two different countries far apart, with different peculiarities. It’s wrong to equate them because there is no basis to do so.
WAP: Since you assume the ambassadorial seat there what are the challenges and successes you faced or recorded in terms of bilateral relationship?
HON. ARDO: The only challenge we have is the inability of the two countries to sign some agreement that has been pending for too long, but we are making frantic moves for both BASA and join the commission to be signed.
In this regard, on my arrival in November 2017, I tried to revisit all pending issues because for 4yrs there was no ambassador in the mission to follow up. It’s just like starting a fresh arrangement. Within the span of two years, we were able to follow up some cases involving Nigerian nationals, and they are released from detention and more are coming.
Nigeria is the first and the only African country with an embassy in the Caribbean since 1973 until recently 5yrs ago that South Africa opens its mission. So the Nigerian embassy is viewed as an African embassy in the Caribbean. Half of the Islands are black from Africa. As a result of the connection with Nigeria, president Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan visited Trinidad to participate in the emancipation.
That was before my arrival and in 2018, I received the governor of Osun state we took part during the celebration to commemorate the end of the slave trade. One of our national leaders Bola Ahmed Tinibu was invited to attend the 2019 event, but because of the election, he couldn’t make it.
As it is today the two major oil companies in Trinidad and Tobago the PETROTRiN and SHELL are all headed by Nigerians. I also hosted the Course 26 geostrategic study tours that were in Trinidad, made up of very senior officers in both military and police officers.
The study centered on Gas flaring and ways to protect the pipeline. Note also that, their Supreme Court justices were in Nigerian between 2003 and 2005 to tap from our judiciary on how to computerize their judicial system which is appreciated to date.
Once Nigeria and Trinidad sign the join commission and the bilateral air service agreement, from Port-of-Spain you get a direct flight to Nigeria within 7hrs and many West African Countries would also benefit from it. We can equally make Nigeria as transit point which will bring in visitors and open our market to the world. If we are able to achieve that, the trouble people are facing on transit VISA to London, the US, Germany, and the cost of the flight are totally eliminated.
WAP: Sir, are you saying Nigeria benefits a lot or both sides of the coin?
HON. ARDO: The two nations have benefited from each other immensely over the years as they are all members of the commonwealth and south-south cooperation. Culture and Tourism, Judiciary, Military, Education and Petroleum industry as well as in the international arena.
WAP: You were the pioneer chairman of the APC in Taraba, you fought gallantly but defeated woefully by the PDP, why do you think so?
HON. ARDO: I was the former Chairman of CPC and pioneer Chairman of APC in Taraba state. By all standards, in all the election I conducted in 2015 and 2019 even the PDP chairman if he is faithful to his God, would confirm that APC won all the election, but they rigged the election. That is why Nemesis is catching up with them up till today.
The only thing is that we in the APC we believed in the rule of law once we have a pronouncement from the competent court either right or wrong we obey that is why we are where we are today. For someone to say that we were defeated in Taraba 2015 and 2019 is the highest level of injustice.
WAP: Many attributes your party failures in Taraba to inter squabble being played, why?
HON. ARDO: Well, people may have different opinions, to me, it’s not so because whatever someone can say, the electorate is united and are tired of PDP misruled for a decade. One can see from the way they voted. The issue here rigging election must stop and three agencies are involved i.e. INEC, Security, and the Judiciary. We also need to educate our traditional institution to overcome the fear of dethronement by the incumbent govt. Let everyone vote his conscience, for them to have a say tomorrow.
WAP: APC is still divided in Taraba even after Supreme Court ruling, but you seem to keep mute, can you help to reconcile?
HON. ARDO: I am not sure APC is still divided and if it’s so, I strongly suggest that the chairman of the party and other stakeholders should sit down and look at the issues objectively to carry everybody along as all of them are important. I can equally give my contribution to foster unity in the party. We all contributed to bringing the party up; we shouldn’t allow our effort to go in vain.
WAP: Anytime I have the opportunity to visit home I assure you I would do the needful within my power.
HON. ARDO: A lot has been said on the much talk Mambilla Hydro project; to extend Minister Power who hailed from Taraba had to confess that nothing tangle is done. What do you think is responsible for the snail speedy work?
The simple truth about Mambilla hydro for the past 4decades was corruption and lack of political will by successive govt. When we got the political will from President Buhari, some of those who lied to us in the past do not want the project to be executed by Buhari and APC govt.
They also want to get a pound of flesh from the contract sum. Thank God the president realized their intention. For now, there is a headway even though it is still hazy because they are not relenting.
WAP: Though you an arch political rival of Gov Darius, how can you asses his performance in the first 4 years?
HON. ARDO: Governor Darius Dickson is the worst governor ever experienced in the history of Nigeria. Nothing ever works under his leadership as a governor and nothing seems to be working. He himself can attest to that by conceptualizing greenhouse as his first project which over N2billion was spent to produce cucumber for 4yrs he cannot generate one million from it as revenue. Posterity would judge every one of us. All that he knows is to mortgage the state and buy all its assets. Collect loans that he cannot justify. It’s really sad for our state.
WAP: It’s surprising for you to make such accusations and allegations because APC has its own members in the state assembly can’t they help in checking his excess or are they also rubber stamps as you might say?
HON. ARDO: Taraba state has 24 members out that only 5 are APC which shows that they have little or no impact in making decision in the house. Another factor is that almost all of them are new in the system. The internal working of the house requires some experience and number. To and extent we blame them for being quiet all the time. We expect every member to stand with the electorate needs not to identify with the Governor if he is not in the right direction.
Yes, the governor recently was away for almost 80 days, but Taraba elders and other stakeholders including legislatures all kept mute…
The Governor was away for 87 days, and he refused to hand over power to his deputy no one said anything. I want to use this medium to call on our stakeholders from every nook and crony of our dear state in respective of tribe religion political affiliation or region to be awake. I plead with all of them to stand up and speak out on the side of justice and fairness. We must all come together and salvage our state, please.
WAP: If today, the governor seeks for your helping hand will you render?
HON. ARDO: If the governor seeks help with sincerity and is in the interest of the masses, not his personal interest or political interest, why not. The essence of governance is to provide the needed basic amenities for its people with trust.
Sir, how true that you are eyeing the exalted seat of governor comes 2023 and if no why?
I am a politician now serving as an ambassador far away Caribbean my eyes ears are all in the assignment given to me by Mr. president I do not have divided loyalty. We are in 2020 no one owns his life my prayers is may the almighty Allah guide and protect us from the unforeseen. What we need is good leadership in our state and that is all.
WAP: In the recent past, there have been incessant herders and farmers crisis not only in Nigeria just as we are no sleeping with two eyes opened due to banditry and Kidnappings and mostly by Fulani herders why so and way out?
HON. ARDO: The case of herders’ farmers’ crisis, in a nutshell, is injustice and politically motivated by some individuals in government for political gains coupled with corruption. Many of them were denied their only means of livelihood and uneducated.
Over the years no one pays attention to them even when they cry for help what do you expect in the long run if they have to survive. I personally condemn things that we see and hear, but we should also differentiate facts and fiction. We experience the worst human catastrophe when I lost 47 of my blood relation in Mambilla Plateau in 2017 with a total death toll of about 1000 people including women and children houses cattle in thousands in a span of one week for the mere fact that we are Fulani no one is saying anything.
Why? As I speak to you no single individual was arrested. Some of them were even rewarded with a political position for a job well done. Some of the reports too were twisted to the contrary in many instances. All these injustices account for some of the problems we are facing today.
WAP: Though you are an ardent supporter of President Buhari and no wonder you have now been compensated with ambassadorial slot, critically how will you assess Buhari’s government and which area need improvement?
HON. ARDO: I don’t believe that my appointment by Mr. President as an ambassador was compensation as enunciated rather is a fulfillment from Allah who destines our life on anything. Many were supporters of President Buhari but could not be appointed to any position till today. Therefore, it’s just a privilege to serve under him by the will of Allah.
Mr. President inherited challenges he lists expected because in this country the more you look the less you see. He is doing his best and still needs prayers support to accomplish his next level agenda. The only area I feel need improvement is for him to close his eyes and take the hard decision on some group of people and organizations. With that, his success is guaranteed, in-sha Allah!
WAP: With the recent crisis in APC, do you think the party will survive 2023?
HON. ARDO: The APC is a formidable party is just that few gray areas need to be addressed and 2023 is a matter of time. The healing process would not take long I assure you.
WAP: But some suggest and call for the removal of Oshiomole do you subscribe to it if yes why and if no why?
HON. ARDO: Sometimes politics are two-team of players without a goal post, it’s not good to insist on changes in a political party frequently because it affects the party in the long run but when it became inevitable, do it carrying everybody along.
For me, I suggest that the president the governors of APC, National assembly members State party chairmen and some critical stakeholders to come together and discuss holistic issues affecting the leadership of the party as soon as possible. The more the delay the more other people take advantage which may not be healthy for the party.
We really thank and appreciate you for fielding questions from us….
I also thank and commend you for finding me worthy for this interview.
- FG Set to Scale Up Contribution of Livestock to GDP, Minister - October 26, 2021
- Navy Seeks Special Intervention Fund to Establish More Jetties - October 26, 2021
- Sudanese Military Leaders Seize Power, Dissolve Transitional Government - October 26, 2021